Taking yourself to the ballgame has gotten way past the point of peanuts and Cracker Jacks.
Part of the fun of sitting in the stands and watching your favorite minor league team in action — in our case, the Biloxi Shuckers — is enjoying some of the offerings from the concession stands.
The Shuckers now have even more goodies to tempt your taste buds. On April 5, Media Day, chef Bob Barlow made some of those new offerings available for Biloxi Shuckers relief pitchers Tristan Archer (the 2016 Southern League All-Star) and Tyler Spurlin and me to try out and give our honest opinions.
We gathered in the Mercedes-Benz Club, where Barlow had prepared a beautifully laid-out display of some of the newer offerings this season at Shuckers Stadium at MGM Park.
There were fried shrimp rolls made with shrimp from M&M Processing in Biloxi, chicken on a stick, pork-and-cheese nachos from Murky Waters BBQ in Gulfport and Ocean Springs, muffulettas and pork-loin sandwiches, plus all-beef hot dogs and sausages from Polk’s, which is based in Magee.
“We’re excited to be offering these local hot dogs and other great products from the area,” said Michael Brulatour, general manager of food services and hospitality for Spectra, which provides concessions at MGM Park.
Spurlin, Archer and I filled up our plates and took our seats. Well, they filled up their plates while I stayed as low-carb as possible, leaving off the bread. These guys don’t have desk jobs.
Archer is from Kingsport, Tennessee, and Spurlin is from The Woodlands, Texas, so they are not strangers to Southern food. Nevertheless, this was Archer’s first taste of a muffuletta, made famous by Central Grocery in New Orleans. The pork-loin sandwiches are similar to a Cuban sandwich, but on the same Gambino’s sesame seed buns as the muffulettas. I mistakenly first understood the pork-loin sandwiches are called Gambinos, and the players latched onto that, eventually calling this sandwich The Great Gambino.
The lightly battered, good-sized shrimp are served on an egg bun instead of French bread, making it a shrimp roll instead of a po-boy, and the sandwich is served with a delicious remoulade sauce. Chicken on a stick contains pickles, baked potato chunks and chicken breast, all crispy fried and on that convenient stick.
Murky Waters’ barbecued pulled pork is served on nacho chips with melted cheese, jalapenos and barbecue sauce. The tender, smoky meat, the velvety cheese and the zing of jalapenos provide a delicious detour from basic nachos.
Hot dogs, of course
As for the dogs, Spurlin likes ketchup on his, and Archer prefers mustard. They were consistent as the sampled the all-beef franks and the regular, smoked and Cajun sausage varieties. I noted sage in the regular; the smoked had a hint of hickory; and the Cajun sausage had a shot of garlic and a nice, lingering peppery kick.
The most unusual sausage was the red beans and rice–stuffed Cajun sausage, served to us in slices. We all liked the texture and flavor. It’s almost like having a portable version of the classic Creole favorite.
By the way, chunks of fresh fruit filled up a souvenir plastic Mason jar to make the fruit cup a diet-friendly yet satisfying spring and summer treat.
“The shrimp and the sausage,” Spurlin, a man of few words, said to summarize his favorites. “The sausage brings out the flavor of the red beans and rice.”
“A lot of ball park food has been the same,” Archer said. “This is pretty unique. There are options for everybody.”